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Re: Newsweek's Bachmann Cover


I think in order to be upset by...or even disillusioned by...the Newsweek magazine cover of Michelle Bachmann, you would have had to be under the impression that Newsweek is a news magazine.  It is not. Newsweek has an opinion. Newsweek has an agenda. We knew this (here, here, and...here) well before the Bachmann cover. Newsweek's cover was unfair, but Newsweek wasn't trying to be fair.

But I think there is another interesting angle to this. We all know that Bachmann sometimes makes this face. (I've heard no suggestion that the pic was photoshopped.) So the picture isn't inaccurate.  But I've also been a part of magazines and know how cover photos - or any photos - are selected. Easily six to seven editors sat over a computer screen debating this photo versus dozens of others.  They arrived at this unflattering photo purposefully.  But here's my question: does a straight news organization (as straight as we can imagine, in other words...not Newsweek) have a duty to pick the most flattering picture of a subject? Do they have a duty to not select the most unflattering picture? Do they have a duty to pick the most common expression a subject makes? What defines fair? It's not clear.

PS - I used to run into this when I worked at small town newspapers. City councilman would invariably slaughter the English language with bad grammar. Do you quote them exactly as they said it? Or do you clean it up? What is fair?

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